Europe This Week: January 12, 2022

January 12, 2022

A weekly review of news and analysis of elections in Europe, usually posted on Wednesdays and occasionally updated throughout the week. For a full electoral calendar and interactive map, click here.

A court building in North Nicosia, in Northern Cyprus. Photo credit: Wikimedia/A. Savin

Upcoming Europe Elections

Cyprus, Cyprus, Northern Cyprus Snap Elections: January 22, 2022 and Republic of Cyprus Presidential Election: February 2023 (due)

Northern Cyprus

Northern Cyprus, recognized only by Turkey, is holding snap elections on January 22 following the resignation of the government. In last year’s presidential election, Ankara-backed nationalist Ersin Tatar won, exacerbating tensions on the island. The elections are taking place amid widespread protests and a tanking economy.

Cyprus is divided between the mostly Greek-speaking south and the Turkish-speaking north, and both Greece and Turkey play in the country’s politics.

Helena Smith, The Guardian (January 9, 2022): Rising anger with Turkey drives calls for reunification in crisis-hit northern Cyprus


The Republic of Cyprus is due to hold a presidential election in 2023. Cyprus’s two biggest parties are the center-right Democratic Rally (DISY), affiliated with the European People’s Party, Centrist Democrat International, and the International Democrat Union, and the communist Progressive Party of Working People (AKEL).

Cyprus has presidential system – the only full presidential system in the EU). In the last presidential election, in 2018, DISY’s Nicos Anastasiades won re-election in the runoff, defeating AKEL’s Stavros Malas.

Reuters (January 9, 2022): Cyprus foreign minister quits in presidential succession battle

Finland County Elections: January 23, 2022

On January 23, 2022, Finland will hold elections to newly-created county councils. These councils will assume responsibility for providing healthcare (the responsibility previously fell to municipal councils).

Following the 2019 parliamentary elections, a left-leaning coalition came into government nationally. The conservative National Coalition Party won the most seats in the local elections, with the Social Democrats placing second. The far-right Finns Party made gains in its vote share. More

David MacDougall, Euronews (January 12, 2022): How voters in Finland are set to decide the biggest healthcare reform in decades

Pekka Vanttinen, Euractiv (January 6, 2022): Low turnout expected in Finland’s first-ever county elections

YLE News (January 1, 2022): Marin on Nato: Finland should keep options open: In her New Year’s message Prime Minister Sanna Marin (SDP) said Finland can apply for Nato membership if it wants to.

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: Begins January 24, 2022

Italy’s parliament will begin the process of choosing a president on January 24. Although Italy’s president does not have much formal executive power, current president Sergio Mattarella, who is not seeking another term, has become increasingly powerful as a mediator in Italy’s recent series of political crises.

Current prime minister Mario Draghi has indicated interest in the role, which could trigger snap elections if the current broad coalition of right and left-wing parties does not hold together. Italy is currently not due for parliamentary elections until 2023. Some fear another bout of instability if Draghi leaves his current role – Draghi’s accession to the role of prime minister ended the last round of political chaos.

In addition, none other than former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi – currently age 85 – is also angling for the role in a campaign dubbed “Operation Squirrel.” Numerous other political figures could be put forward for nomination.

Angela Giuffrida, The Guardian (January 11, 2022): Silvio Berlusconi steps up Italy presidential campaign with threat to coalition

Silvia Amaro, CNBC (January 10, 2022): Mario Draghi brought political stability to Italy. Now, a key election threatens it all

Thibault Spirlet, Politico (January 4, 2022): Italy’s parliament set to vote for new president on January 24

Portugal Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 30, 2022

Portugal will hold snap elections on January 30, following the government’s defeat in a crucial budget vote.

The two main parties, center-right Social Democratic Party (PSD) and leftist Socialist Party (PS), regularly alternate in power. In the 2015 parliamentary elections, PSD won a plurality of seats and briefly formed a minority government, which collapsed after less than two months. PS leader Antonio Costa formed a left-wing coalition and became prime minister. In the 2019 elections, the Socialists won again, but did not get a majority. Subsequently, Costa formed a minority government

Sergio Goncalves, Reuters (January 8, 2022): Portugal’s Socialists retain lead ahead of election but gap narrows – poll

Spain, Snap Regional Elections in Castile and León: February 13, 2022

Spain’s Castile and León region will hold early elections to the regional legislature on February 13, 2022. After that, the country holds local and general elections in 2023.

Alana Moceri, World Politics Review (January 3, 2022): Spain’s Rural Parties Look to Shake Up the Status Quo

Germany Saarland State Elections: March 27, 2022, followed by Schleswig-Holstein State Elections: May 8, 2022, North Rhine-Westphalia State Elections: May 15, 2022, and Lower Saxony State Elections: October 8, 2022

Germany holds several sets of state elections in 2022, following the “Superwahljahr” (Super Election Year) of 2021, which saw the defeat of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union and a new “traffic light coalition” government consisting of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), and the Greens.

Geir Moulson, AP (January 5, 2022): Main German opposition party backs second term for president

Ben Knight, DW (January 4, 2022): Germany’s election year 2022 — What’s in store for German politics? There are four state elections set for this year for the German parties to fight.

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

Hungary is holding parliamentary elections on April 3, 2022. Prime Minster Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz party has become increasingly authoritarian, to the concern of many both in Hungary and in the international community. Moreover, Orbán’s increasingly close ties to Russia and China have become a concern for many Hungarian voters.

A number of opposition parties recently held a primary to field a single candidate for prime minister. Ultimately, conservative Péter Márki-Zay, mayor of the southern city of Hódmezővásárhely, won the second round, defeating leftist Klára Dobrev, after liberal Budapest mayor Gergely Karácsony – who had been seen as a favorite – dropped out and endorsed Márki-Zay.

Krisztina Than, Reuters (January 11, 2022): Hungary sets April 3 election with PM Orban facing united opposition

John Wagner, Washington Post (January 3, 2022): Trump offers unusual endorsement of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban ahead of parliamentary elections

France Presidential Election: April 10 and 24, 2022, followed by Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 2022

France holds presidential and legislative elections in spring 2022. These follow the June 2021 regional elections, in which the far-right failed to make gains that had been predicted by pre-election polls. The regional elections put the center-right Republicans in a stronger position to challenge President Emmanuel Macron.

While many had predicted a rematch between Macron and the far-right Marine Le Pen, whom Macron defeated in 2017, it is becoming increasingly unclear who will make it to the second round (if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote on April 10, the top two face off in a runoff on April 24). The rise of far-right media personality Éric Zemmour, who is often compared to Donald Trump, could take support away from Le Pen.

As for the traditionally-dominant parties, the center-right Republicans have selected Valérie Pécresse, president of the regional council of Île-de-France. The Socialists chose Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo as their candidate. Pécresse has polled in second and could very realistically beat both of the far-right candidates and make it to the runoff.

William Horobin, Ania Nussbaum, and Caroline Alexander, Bloomberg (January 13, 2022): For Macron and France, It’s the Economy, Stupide: Culture-war clashes make all the noise, but a strong recovery from the pandemic crash may be what sways French voters in April.

Robert M. Cutler, Geopolitical Monitor (January 11, 2022): The Role of Armenia in French Elections

Barbara Surk, AP (January 10, 2022): Macron talks up security in French conservative stronghold

Adam Sage, Times of London (January 4, 2022): French election: Valerie Pécresse vows to unite France with ‘army of conquest’: Macron’s centre-right challenger invokes Napoleon as she steps up presidential campaign

France24 (January 3, 2022): French election year kicks off with EU flag fracas at Paris’s Arc de Triomphe

Austria Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

Austria is due to hold a presidential election in April 2022, although in Austria’s parliamentary system, the role is largely ceremonial. Recently, the double resignation of center-right chancellor Sebastian Kurz and subsequently his successor, Alexander Schallenberg, has shaken politics. General elections to select the next government are not due until 2024, but snap elections remain possible. In addition, a number of states hold state and local elections in 2023.

Matthew Karnitschnig, Politico (January 12, 2022): Austria’s democratic deficit disorder: The country has found itself lurching from scandal to scandal.

AFP (January 6, 2022): Health first, freedom second? How Covid is changing democracies

United Kingdom Local Elections, including Northern Ireland Assembly: May 5, 2022

The United Kingdom holds local elections for some local councils, as well as the Northern Ireland Assembly (although the Northern Ireland elections could take place earlier). The Northern Ireland elections could be a watershed. Polling suggests that unionist parties could lose their majority and the nationalist Sinn Féin could become the biggest party. By far the biggest issue in public debate is Northern Ireland’s trade arrangements following Brexit.

In last year’s local elections, the Conservatives made gains on councils, particularly in England, but Labour’s Sadiq Khan was re-elected mayor of London. Labour also held onto its working majority in the Welsh parliament. In the high-stakes Scottish Parliament elections, the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) won the most seats after campaigning on another independence referendum, but failed to win a majority, making it harder to insist on a new referendum. All of Scotland’s local councils are up for election in 2022. The SNP is currently the biggest party in local government, and it is worth watching whether they make gains this year.

Jude Webber, Financial Times (January 4, 2022): Brexit casts shadow over Northern Ireland elections: Party divisions over trading arrangements reflect region’s sectarian divide ahead of pivotal May poll

Freya McClements, Irish Times (January 8, 2022): Will the Stormont Assembly fall before elections in May?

James Crisp, The Telegraph (December 30, 2021): Stormont elections must not become referendum on Northern Ireland Protocol, warns Dublin

Sweden Parliamentary Elections: September 11, 2022

Sweden holds general elections on September 11, 2022.

In June 2021, the left-leaning coalition led by Prime Minister Stefan Lofven fell in a no-confidence vote. Lofven was re-elected PM, but could fall in yet another no-confidence vote if his government cannot pass a budget. In August, Lofven suddenly announced his resignation, effective in November. Magdalena Andersson, currently the finance minister, looks likely to succeed him and become Sweden’s first female prime minister.

Richard Milne, Financial Times (January 5, 2022): Sweden’s opposition leader calls for united front over right to join Nato: Country should adopt Finland’s approach in face of Russian threats, says centre-right party

AP (January 5, 2022): Sweden creates agency to combat fake news ahead of election

Bosnia and Herzegovina General Elections: October 2, 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) holds general elections on October 2, 2022. The 2020 local elections, which took place in the context of gridlock and ethno-nationalism, delivered a blow to the three main ethnic-based political parties, with opposition forces winning in Sarajevo and other key cities. BiH faces a number of problems, including poor economic prospects, incompetent governance, and bitter political fights. 

BiH consists of two entities: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, populated mostly by Muslim Bosniaks and Catholic Croats, and the Republika Srpska, with mostly Orthodox Serbs. Recently, tensions have flared as Bosnian Serb leader Milorad Dodik has used increasingly inflammatory rhetoric and taken actions that some analysts see as moving toward secession.

Marton Dunai, Financial Times (January 13, 2022): Bosnian Serb leader Dodik defiant over sanctions as tensions flare

Svetlana Cenić, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung’s IPS Journal (January 10, 2022): Could Bosnia and Herzegovina disintegrate?

Past Europe Elections

Bulgaria Parliamentary Elections, Take 3 and Presidential Election: November 14, 2021

Bulgaria held a presidential election on November 14 along with parliamentary elections – the third this year after no one could form a government following the first two. It appears that the third time was a charm, as a new political party called We Continue the Change (whose founders tout their Harvard credentials) formed a broad coalition.

The elections brought forth a major change, ousting former PM Boyko Borissov’s center-right GERB, which had governed for most of the last 12 years. The country also saw the rise of a party called There Is Such a People (ITN), led by TV star Stanislav Trifonov, which came in second in the April elections and first in the July elections. Despite being edged out by We Continue the Change in November, ITN will be part of the new coalition. The other parties in the government will be the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the centrist/center-right Democratic Bulgaria coalition.

Bulgaria is a member of NATO and the European Union (EU); however, it remains the poorest and most corrupt member of the EU. Meanwhile, Russia seeks to influence Bulgaria. Moreover, Bulgaria is currently embroiled in a diplomatic dispute with neighboring North Macedonia involving issues of language and history. Last year, it blocked North Macedonia’s EU accession. This comes on the heels of North Macedonia literally changing its name in order to get Greece to stop blocking its NATO and EU membership. More

Svetoslav Todorov, Balkan Insight (January 4, 2022): Bulgaria in 2022: Can a New Government ‘Continue the Change’?

North Macedonia Local Elections: October 17, 2021

North Macedonia held local elections on October 17, 2021 which delivered a landslide victory for the conservative/nationalist opposition VMRO-DPMNE and resulted in the resignation of PM Zoran Zaev of the Social Democratic Union (SDSM). These follow parliamentary elections in July 2020 in which SDSM won a second term. North Macedonia’s next general elections are not due until 2024, but the opposition is calling for snap polls in light of the results of the local elections.

Following a historic agreement with Greece, and a name change, North Macedonia joined NATO in 2020 and is currently in talks to join the EU (although now Bulgaria is trying to hold that up).

The country’s politics remain fragmented and fractious.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight (January 13, 2022): North Macedonia in 2022: New Govt – and EU Hopes – Rest on Thin Ice

Svetoslav Todorov, Balkan Insight (January 11, 2022): Bulgarian President Reconfirms Hardline Stance on North Macedonia

Ivaylo Ditchev, DW (January 10, 2022): My Europe: Bulgaria vs. North Macedonia — is there a way forward?

RFE/RL (December 29, 2021): North Macedonia’s President Asks Kovachevski To Form New Government

Netherlands Parliamentary Elections: March 17, 2021

Netherlands held parliamentary elections on March 17, 2020. Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right VVD once again won the most seats, but coalition negotiations continued for nearly six months after the elections. The parties finally announced that they would renew the four-party coalition, and remain in government. More

Mike Corder, AP (January 10, 2022): Dutch king swears in new ruling coalition, Rutte’s 4th

Lukas Kotkamp, Politico (January 3, 2022): 8 things to know about the incoming Dutch government

Europe Elections Coming Up in 2022 and 2023

Serbia Constitutional Referendum: January 16, 2022

Cyprus, Northern Cyprus Snap Elections: January 22, 2022

Finland County Elections: January 23, 2022

Italy Indirect Presidential Election: January 24, 2022

Portugal Snap Parliamentary Elections: January 30, 2022

Netherlands Local Elections: March 16, 2022

Germany, Saarland State Elections: March 27, 2022

Hungary Parliamentary Elections: April 3, 2022

Serbia Presidential and Parliamentary Elections, plus Belgrade City Assembly Elections: April 3, 2022

France Presidential Election: April 10 and 24, 2022

Slovenia Parliamentary Elections: April 24, 2022

Austria Presidential Election: April 2022 (due)

United Kingdom Local Elections, including Northern Ireland Assembly: May 5, 2022

Germany, Schleswig-Holstein State Elections: May 8, 2022

Germany, North Rhine-Westphalia State Elections: May 15, 2022

France Legislative Elections: June 12 and 19, 2022

Malta Parliamentary Elections: June 2022 (due – snap elections possible)

Sweden Parliamentary and Local Elections: September 11, 2022

Latvia Parliamentary Elections: October 1, 2022

Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidential and Legislative Elections: October 2, 2022

Germany, Lower Saxony State Elections: October 9, 2022

Czech Republic Local and Partial Senate Election: October 2022

Spain, Andalusia Regional Elections: Between June and October 2022 (due)

Slovenia Presidential and Local Elections: October/November 2022 (due)

Slovakia Local Elections: November 2022 (due)

Czech Republic Presidential Election: By January 2023

Austria, Lower Austria State Elections: January 2023 (due)

Cyprus Presidential Election: February 2023 (due)

Monaco Parliamentary Elections: February 2023 (due)

Austria, Tyrol State Elections: February 2023 (due)

Estonia General Elections: By March 5, 2023

Netherlands Provincial Council and Water Authority Elections: March 2023 (due)

Austria, Carinthia State Elections: March 2023 (due)

Finland Parliamentary Elections: By April 2023

Montenegro Presidential Election: April 2023 (due)

Austria, Salzburg State Elections: April 2023 (due)

Spain Local Elections and Various Regional Elections: May 28, 2023

Germany, Bremen State Elections: May 2023 (due)

Greece Local Elections: May 2023 (due)

Latvia Indirect Presidential Election: May 2023 (due)

Italy General Elections: By June 1, 2023

Denmark General Elections: By June 4, 2023

Greece Parliamentary Elections: By August 6, 2023

Norway Local Elections: September 2023

Switzerland Federal Parliamentary Elections: October 2023 (due)

Luxembourg General Elections: October 2023

Bulgaria Local Elections: October 2023

Germany, Hesse and Bavaria State Elections: October 2023 (due)

Finland, Åland Elections: By October 2023

Poland Parliamentary and Local Elections: By November 11, 2023

Spain General Elections: By December 10, 2023 (snap elections possible)

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